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#### How can we avoid expert-induced blindness when teaching reading?

Steve Trafford explores the complexity of tasks in the classroom and how we can support novice readers.

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In part 1 we looked at the theory behind when worked examples can be helpful/harmful. In this post we’ll explore how that foundation sets us up to make better use of them within our lessons. The EEF’s FAME approach provides a great starting point for this.

When introducing a new concept or one that students are likely to have forgotten (ie when students can be considered ‘novices’), we should use fully scaffolded examples^{1}.

We want to draw students’ attention to the key concepts/procedures that we’re explaining by limiting the amount of things we’re asking them to attend to, and being clear and succinct in our explanations. This can be aided by using concrete examples of abstract ideas^{2} (eg rather than just providing a definition of a polygon, show students some concrete examples) as well as non-examples^{3} (eg explicitly demonstrating why a circle doesn’t fit in the definition of polygon).

We can also use the ‘Explanation’ part of the FAME approach, by prompting students to self-explain what’s going on in each step and why that is the case^{4}.

Prior to transitioning to fully independent practice we can provide students with some scaffolds to more gradually increase the level of difficulty, making the change more manageable – like stabilisers on a bicycle. One way of doing this is through fading^{5}, where we slowly remove certain steps of working one (or a few) at a time:

Fully-worked example (accompanied with an oral explanation) | Partially solved-example | |

Expand: 3 (y – 8) 3 (y – 8) = 3y – 24 | Expand: 5(y – 8) 5 (y – 8) = 5y……… |

There is some evidence that suggests removing in reverse order (starting from the final step required) can be more beneficial for students^{6}. In doing this students are still having to think hard about the learning, but we are managing that load carefully to minimise the chances of them becoming overwhelmed.

We could also use example problem pairs^{7}. This is where we provide students with a very similar question to the one we’ve modelled with only minimal changes, such as the example below:

Fully-worked example (accompanied with an oral explanation) | Problem | |

Expand: 3(y – 8) 3(y – 8) = 3y – 24 | Expand: 5 (y – 8) |

In this strategy, they have to execute the whole procedure by themselves, but they have the support of being able to see a fully-worked example at the same time, which can prevent them from having to hold the previous answer in their mind whilst working out a new one.

In situations where there are a number of steps involved we can adopt the *Alternation *aspect^{8} of the FAME approach by introducing small parts of the whole procedure gradually, before bringing it all together.

Having used fully and partially guided examples, we could then use techniques such as mini-whiteboards or hinge-point questions^{9} to see if there are any remaining misconceptions or mistakes in students’ working.

This will allow us to either provide quick feedback to correct any mistakes/misunderstanding and then gauge whether we need to:

a) go back and reteach if a high rate of errors continues

b) move students on to independent work if we a high rate of correct responses is seen or

c) move on those students who were correct whilst supporting those students for whom certain mistakes were still persisting.

We can also use the *Mistakes *aspect^{10} of the FAME approach to extend and provide additional challenge for those students who need it. We can display intentionally incorrect solutions and ask students to spot and correct the error(s) present.

Finally, all of these ideas are designed to direct students’ attention to what we want to achieve right now, so what underpins all of this is clarity of purpose. Being clear about things like if we want students to follow a procedure, to execute it, to recognise it, or to apply it in an unfamiliar context is crucial in deciding how much support they’ll need initially, and how quickly it can be removed.

**Author:**

Amarbeer Singh Gill

Lead Practitioner of Maths

@InspiredLearn_

**References**

^{1 Clark, Kirschner, & Sweller. (2012).}

^{2 The Learning Scientists. (2016). Learn to Study Using… Concrete Examples. https://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/8/25 – 1}

^{3 Open University Mathematics Education. (2019). Using Examples in the Maths Classroom. http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/MathEd/index.php/2019/11/26/using-examples-in-the-classroom/#:~:text=Even%20outside%20of%20mathematics%2C%20it,et%20al.%2C%202006)%20.}

^{4 Education Endowment Foundation. (2022). Using Worked Examples to Support High Quality Teaching; The FAME Approach. https://d2tic4wvo1iusb.cloudfront.net/eef-guidance-reports/science-ks3-ks4/Worked_Examples_-_FAME.pdf}

^{5 IBID}

^{6 IBID}

^{7 McCrea, E. (2019). Making Every Maths Lesson Count: Six principles to support great maths teaching (Making Every Lesson Count series). Crown House Publishing Ltd.}

^{8 Education Endowment Foundation. (2022).}

^{9 STEM Learning. (n.d.). Assessment for Learning: Hinge Point Questions. https://www.stem.org.uk/assessment-for-learning}

^{10 Education Endowment Foundation. (2022).}

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Steve Trafford explores the complexity of tasks in the classroom and how we can support novice readers.

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In advance of our webinar, Amarbeer Singh Gill considers how we read, consume and process mathematical information.

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